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Written By: Mark Frauenfelder
Adobe Illustrator (1)
or other proaram vou can use
to draw a
Grip tape (1)
Skate trucks (2)
Band saw (1)
Skateboard wheels (4)
Last year my 13-year-old daughter asked for a skateboard, so I gave her my 20-year-old
board (which wasn't seeing much use). She liked to ride it along the bank of the Los Angeles
River, and I would ride with her on a Razor scooter. But after a while, I started to miss
having a skateboard, and I thought it would be fun to make one.
I put it off for a few months, until I saw a video of Lloyd Kahn, the well-known maker and
former geodesic dome guru, cruising down a gently sloped street (makezine.com/go/kahn).
He's 75 years old, and his skating skills are top-notch. This was the inspiration I needed to
get off my butt and make my own longboard.
I went online to look for plans. There are many plans and kits available, but they seemed
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overly complex for what I was setting out to do. I simply wanted a 4-foot-long board that
wouldn't sag too much when I stood in the middle of it. My solution was to make a board with
a hump in it.
Here's how I did it.
Step 1 — Glue.
• Squeeze a liberal amount of Gorilla Wood Glue (alternately, Titebond III also works well)
on one side of two 48"x8" lengths of 1/4" Baltic birch plywood.
• Then use a paintbrush to spread the glue in an even layer.
• Stick the glued sides of the 2 boards together.
Step 2 — Bend.
• Suspend the board between 2
bricks placed at its far ends.
• I set a couple of heavy boxes of
books in the middle of the board so
that it sagged in a U shape.
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Step 3 — Clamp.
. ... m % - y - * * *
Wjfrj^, • | H | |ff jB
^ ^ %r -
• Using multiple clamps, pinch the boards together. Do not disturb the setup for 24 hours.
• The next day when I removed the boxes of books, the 2 pieces of wood stayed bent. I
flipped the boards over, stood on the hump and bounced up and down a bunch of times to
make sure it could support my weight without breaking. It passed the test.
Step 4 — Mark.
• Next, you need to draw a template of the end of the skateboard. Naturally, it helps if you
have a board on hand for reference. I drew a template using Adobe Illustrator.
• Cut out the template, and tape it to one end of your new board.
• Then use a pencil to transfer the shape to the board. I used the same template on both
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Step 5 — Cut and sand.
• Cut out the rough shape of the skateboard using a band saw.
• Then sand the edges.
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Step 6 — Add trucks and wheels.
• Next you need to add the trucks
and wheels. I bought a set from
Amazon for about $35.
• Install them on the board and test it
out in on the pavement.
• I discovered that when I leaned into
the skateboard, the wheels came in
contact with the wood. The
skateboard would come to a
screeching halt, sending me
• So I used the band saw to cut
some clearance arcs for the
wheels. This did the trick. Now I
could make turns without having to
worry about the wheels jamming
into the wood.
Step 7 — Finish.
• I painted a design on the bottom of the skateboard and sprayed on several coats of
• Finally, you will need to add grip tape. I added clear grip tape to the entire top surface of
the skateboard. (I found out that I don't like clear grip tape, because it gets dirty really fast.
Next time I'll use black grip tape.)
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After installing the trucks and wheels, I invited my daughter to go skateboarding with me along
the bank of the L.A. River again. She took her skateboard and I took my new one. My board
worked beautifully. I couldn't have been more pleased with the way it handled. My daughter
asked if she could try it out.
"I love this!" she said, as she glided smoothly down the paved embankment. "Can we trade?"
It looks like I'll be making another longboard soon.
This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 26 .
This document was last generated on 201 2-1 0-31 11:13:39 AM.
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